Ribbon Cut

Community invited to ribbon cut and open house at new Lincoln Police station July 11th

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[November 12, 2018]  On Wednesday, July 11th at 6 p.m. the community is invited to a ribbon cutting and open house at the new Lincoln Police Station located on Fifth Street at the former Jefferson School.

For those unfamiliar with the property, the new campus occupies the full city block and the station is located on the back side of the block. The front door faces Fifth Street, and a public parking area is available between the front door and the street.

The ribbon cut will take place outside at the front door. Guests will then be invited inside for a limited access tour. The event will be catered by Flossie and Delzina’s in Lincoln.

The ribbon cut and open house signifies the completion of a project that has been ongoing since September of 2016.

A plaque inside the front entry at the new police station pays respect to the Jefferson School that was a big part of local education for 50 years.

At the end of the 2016 school year, Lincoln Elementary School District 27 Superintendent Kent Froebe announced that due to declining student population at Jefferson, the district had determined that the school should be closed and students who would normally attend Jefferson School would be redistributed, primarily to Northwest School.

The district had no plans to maintain the building, and began entertaining how to dispose of the property. It was then that the city of Lincoln got involved, based on the suggestion of then Ward 2 Alderwoman Kathy Horn. After having a conversation with the school district, it was determined that the building could be repurposed into a new police station for the city department. The district school board offered to sell the building and adjacent property to the north of it to the city for $75,000.

Prior to this offer, the quest for a location for a new police station and also a new fire station had begun in September of 2013 with the proposal that the city implement a four percent utility tax that would generate enough funding to support a number of major investments for the city including funding for police and fire structures and funding for the city’s pension funds.

Prior to all this, in 2013 a space needs assessment had been done for the police department. The department was at that time occupying space at the Logan County Safety Complex. The space they were allotted there was approximately 1,200 square feet. A professional assessment determined that for the department to operate at its best potential, the space actually needed was ten times that amount, 12,200 square feet.

A cost analysis was done at about the same time, and the city was told that a new construction site for the police department alone would run in the range of $6 million to $7 M. A combined police and fire department would cost in the range of $ 12 M.

When the Jefferson School became available for $75,000, it was determined that the total square footage would exceed what had been recommended and the cost of retrofitting the school to become a police station would cost about $3 million – 50 percent less than new construction.

This week Lincoln Police Chief Paul Adams offered a walk-through of the building for LDN in preparation for next week’s ribbon cut. One of the prized locations in the building is a new training center that takes up most of the extra square footage inside the building. Adams explained that the training center would be a huge asset to the city in a number of ways.

He said that with the size of the room and the seating capacity, the training center could be utilized not just by the Lincoln Department, but by departments throughout the region who needed proper training space. He noted that there would be a cost involved in using the center, which would benefit the Lincoln Department, but that also, day-long or multiple day training events would equal hotel/motel stays, as well as added business for local eateries, convenience stores and gas stations.

He said that the training center has already generated interest in other communities and with other training programs. For example, the Springfield Mobile Training Unit has helped equip the room offering an in-kind trade where that they paid for part of the equipment in the room in exchange for being able to use the room a couple of times a year. Adams said that had been a win-win, because the city had saved money on the purchase of equipment, and had guaranteed that a couple of times a year 30 to 40 people would be gathering in Lincoln from out of town, again visiting local eateries and other Lincoln businesses.

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Going through the building, Adams pointed out a number of places where dollars had been saved thanks to doing business with local contractors and retailers. For example, he pointed out that there was a room designated as a workout area. In the budget for the building there was no room to put in electrical services to the room. However, the electric contractor decided he could donate that work, so there is now sufficient electricity in the room for workout equipment.

Another example he pointed out was the large quantity of large screen televisions throughout the building. The televisions can be used in a number of ways by the department. Adams said he went to the Lincoln Wal-Mart to purchase the screens when they were on sale. He was going to be getting a pretty good deal, but the deal became even sweeter when the manager heard that the screens would be going into the new police station. Adams said thanks to Wal-Mart the screens were purchased at well below $100 each.

One of Adams favorite stories about the new building is how that the department got $90,000 worth of special storage units for the evidence room for about $8,000.

To make the most of the space available, the master plan called for large storage racks on gliders that would slide together. Utilizing these types of racks, evidence could be stored and the racks slid together. When evidence needed to be retrieved the racks could be slid apart making enough room for an officer to walk the aisle and get what was needed. Utilizing these types of racks over standard shelving was going to about double the storage capacity inside the evidence room. However, the racks in the initial design were quoted at $90,000. Adams said that wasn’t something the city could afford, so the special racks were removed from the plan.

However, he said one day he got a phone call from the contractor who was installing lockers in the new station. That contractor had just gotten done talking to a company in St. Louis that was dissolving. The contractor had been called to haul away and destroy the company’s inventory. In the inventory was the exact set of racks that had been in the original Lincoln PD plan. The contractor told Adams that if Lincoln could provide someone to go to St. Louis and tear down and ship the racks, the city could have them for free.

Adams and two others from the LPD went to St. Louis, took the racks apart, got them ready to ship and hired a truck to bring them back to Lincoln where that the contractor installing the lockers installed the special racks. Adams said that was quite a bargain for the city, and would assure there would be plenty of room for proper evidence storage.

Throughout the building there are many remarkable, state-of-the-art pieces of equipment that are designed to make the job of the LPD safer, and much more efficient. Fume hoods in the evidence processing room will protect officers from noxious fumes when they are processing, for example, drug evidence. State-of-the-art surveillance systems around the building will assure that those inside are secure, and those seeking to gain entry are allowed in when needed and kept out when not.

Adams also pointed out the safe room that will be a part of the front entry way. He said that a special phone will be installed inside the entry way. The phone is on order and will hopefully be here sometime in August. The front doors of the building are always unlocked, but that is as far as anyone can get inside the building without being admitted by personnel.

However, he said as an example, if a female is out at night, and feels she is being followed or threatened, she can come into the front entry way, push a button on the phone and say she feels she is in danger. The exterior doors will instantly lock, and that potential victim will be inside a safe room until officers can get to her. Adams said that the call the potential victim makes will go to the officers in the building and also to the 911 dispatch center, which is manned 24/7.

At the Wednesday evening open house, guests will be permitted to see portions of the building, but not all of it. There are areas within the building that the public should not be privy to in order to protect officers and keep evidence, as well as potential victims or suspects safe. The public is asked to come out and see the new building, but to please respect the restricted areas.

[Nila Smith]

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